As It Happens

B.C. woman left in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn 32 years ago finds her birth parents

More than three decades after Teanna Elliot was found abandoned in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn, she has reconnected with her birth parents. 

Teanna Elliot was known as 'Baby Mary' after two boys found her alone and wrapped in a garbage bag

Teanna Elliot was known as 'Baby Mary' when she was found abandoned in a parking lot in 1987. (Submitted by Teanna Elliot)
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More than three decades after Teanna Elliot was found abandoned in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn, she has found her birth parents. 

Elliot, 32, is perhaps better known as "Baby Mary." She was discovered by two boys in Calgary on Nov. 25, 1987, alone in the cold, wrapped in nothing but a garbage bag. 

As an adult, she set out on a journey to find her biological parents. After years of searching, she finally hit the jackpot.

"It's just this roller coaster that I've been going through," the 32-year-old Kelowna, B.C., woman told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

'You weren't exactly born in a hospital'

The story of Baby Mary made headlines across the country in 1987. 

Bob Ward was running errands that day when two boys came running up to him, and one of them said: "Sir, there's a baby over there in a green plastic bag."

"I just dropped my groceries and went over and picked the baby up and hugged it," Ward said in an interview with then-As It Happens host Michael Enright the following day. 

"When I picked her up, she gurgled, just like a newborn baby does. You know, they make their little noise. And then, after I had her in my arms ... she was quiet and quite content."

Bob Ward speaks to As It Happens on Nov. 26, 1987, one day after two boys came running up to him in a parking lot and told him they'd found an abandoned baby in a garbage bag. 5:08

Elliot says she always knew she was adopted, but she spent most of her childhood oblivious to the fact that she was once a famous baby. 

That all changed when she found an old picture of herself as an infant, she said. A woman was holding her and she had something strange attached to her head. 

"I said to my mom, 'Why do I have that on my head?' And she said ... 'Well, they were testing you to make sure you had no drugs in your system.' And I said, 'Well, why would they be doing that?' And she said, 'Well, you weren't exactly born in a hospital.'"

That's when she learned the truth about where she came from. 

Teanna Elliot, right, with her husband and daughter. (Submitted by Teanna Elliot)

She says that truth weighed heavily on her during her teens. 

"I thought, oh my gosh, like, I wasn't wanted, I was less, I'm unlovable," she said. "It was a little hard for a while, and it took me years to get where I am today with this forgiving attitude toward all the parties involved."

The search begins 

Nearly five years ago, Elliot had a baby girl of her own and decided she needed to find out more about her lineage. 

In 2017, the media started covering her search, prompting a supporter to send her some money to help her submit her DNA to Ancestry.ca.

In April, 2019, she finally got a message. It came from a cousin — with whom she shared grandparents. Not long after that, Elliot found her birth dad and a half-brother in Calgary. 

Her father had no idea she even existed, she said. 

She's since met him and his family in person, and they're starting to grow close, she said.

"It was cool. It was emotional. I don't even know how to describe it," she said. "It was just an unreal feeling to kind of finally meet this person that brought you into this world."

Getting to know her mother 

With her biological mother, Elliot says things are a little more complicated. She found her with the help of a genealogist, and they've been emailing back and forth. 

"It's been a trickier relationship. I don't want to say negative. It's just she's still dealing with some stuff and it's been hard," Elliot said.

"I think she was very surprised that I found her because I think she didn't think that would ever happen."

Elliot says she still doesn't know why her mother left her behind all those years ago, but says she holds no ill will toward her.

She's been taken aback by some of the negative comments she's seen online about her birth mother.

"I think it's easy for someone to sit behind a computer and voice their opinion. But if you're not in that situation, you have no idea," she said.

"She's dealt with this emotionally for 32 years now ... That's enough for her."

Eliott has decided not to make either of birth parents' names public.

She says she couldn't have done any of this without the unending support of her adoptive parents.

"Oh my gosh, they are two of the most amazing people you'll ever meet, to take this baby that was left and to love it like your own," she said.

"That takes a special kind of human. And that's my mom and dad."


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes.